When the halls of power echo your voice, when titans of commerce and capital don your colors, when hallowed institutions bow to your ritual, does that make you a revolutionary? Well it does in today’s America.
It’s all a bit odd. Millions of fire-breathing activists believe they are fighting a once in a millennium battle against the forces of oppression stemming from a white supremacist state, greedy capitalist mega-corporations, and various organizations that toe the aforementioned’s line; yet all of the power centers mentioned agree with the ideology of this “resistance.” So what are they really even resisting?
History shows its style when it rhymes and repeats. The poetry of the past is a delight but can be a disaster once it reaches the present. I believe we are seeing many of those themes today. What is happening in the digital realm took place centuries ago in the physical realm. The Dark Ages beckon us in order for us to see the light of the day.
Prior to the marble white hues and parchment yellow shades of the Renaissance were the depressing castle grays and dark, moldy greens of the Dark Ages. The slow motion collapse of Rome meant a multitude of small kingdoms were built from the ashes of the empire. Marauding bands sprawled across these remains, and the ruins of the Classical Era crumbled into newly open land where a free-for-all commenced. The nouveau dominant competed with each other in a chaotic fashion until a new power-broker entered the fray – the Catholic Church. As the last pagans uttered their chants, the hymns of Jehovah marched through the ears of Europe. A semblance of unity, albeit different compared to the previous Caesarian type, brought a relative stability back to Europe.
Invented in 1440 AD, Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press became the devil incarnate to many Church leaders. The monopoly over information was slowly being chipped away as this instrument of demons subverted minds and minimized the power of the Church. Their reaction was swift.
The Church would clamp down on heresy and even the free market as ideas traveled with trade. However, the Italian Renaissance would accelerate and proliferate science with the marvel of engineering spreading across the continent. Gutenberg’s gift to Europe would profoundly transform it as Martin Luther’s Bible powered the Protestant Reformation and challenged the Catholic Church in ways never before seen. Rebellion in philosophy naturally grew into rebellion in politics.
And along with philosophical machinations, came the advent of new machinery itself. Advances in technology spread and deflated the costs of what used to be elite weaponry and methods. A black dust came from the East that danced with fire in a way never before seen in Europe. Gunpowder leveled the playing field with time as it would make various military technologies obsolete. Relatively untrained laymen could rip through the vaunted armor of marauding knights and expert swordsmen with the touch of a trigger. The contraptions derived from gunpowder as well as other emerging technology would make merchants wealthy as commerce became ever more lucrative and markets lubricated as the Age of Discovery loomed. The Church would attempt to regulate all this along with what spread from that dastardly printing press, but alas…
What is “The Church” today? Well, you’ll notice a recurring theme; things are a bit more decentralized. Candidates vary but in a sense, the equilibrium between mainstream media, academia, and Big Tech forms “The Church” of our times.
The New Church functions as the creator of a new mass morality, a religion. The scribes are academics who create and capture the flow of knowledge. Their credentials are propped up and reinforced by large media houses that function as influential “cathedrals” – The New York Times, Washington Post, etc… What they say is published, as long as they adhere to their predecessors and patrons. Academics and intellectuals are the new prophets. Abraham has been replaced with Ibram. Down with the Old Gods, in with the New.
The lords and kings are the various smaller institutions and corporations who will destroy your livelihood if you blaspheme and deviate from the mind of the Church. The lead serfs or “first amongst equals” play hall monitor amongst the regular folk. Journalists who brandish their outlet’s one true ideology, “woke” tech personnel, and psychopath activists rest in this category answering the call of their lords to harass and break those who Think Different. Those that diverge face ostracism and exile in a cancel culture that would make a 17th century Massachusetts Puritan proud. The internet is the printing press, but Big Tech is trying decide what gets printed. Just check out recommended topics and exploration features on social media and what tone they play.
There is an underlying method to this that is brilliantly self-sustaining and provides a potent narrative loop. This is how “truth” is formed today:
Somewhere down the line, a wealthy individual, institution, or even government fund academic research. Either a fool or a fakir is one who turns down free money, but the not so implicit catch is that the academic must sing a narrative.
The funded academics produce “peer-reviewed” research that is every bit as incestuous as this whole process, with webs of back and forth approvals and back scratching (and then some) being conducted between “researchers.”
Literature and papers are produced which are now covered and exalted by eminent organizations such as NGOs (most modern day NGOs have unfortunately been reduced to money laundering schemes or political action groups) or more potently, media outlets.
Credibility is now established to this academic parampara of thought as “reputable” outlets endorse these views as “facts.” The inception of ideas is planted across all those who consume the content.
Young, politically inclined people enter academia and the loop begins once more with the wheel of narrative turning and reinforcing. New “truths” are born.
In a way, the academics of the much maligned social “sciences” have won. They are the ones who decide how you and your children will think. Welcome to Sunday School; it starts every time you open your phone.
Our attention is captured in a way humanity has never seen before. The offspring of personalized algorithms are presented every time you open a piece of technology. Our intellects are corralled into specific plots of cyberspace that we’re encouraged to stay in, farming more and more data whenever we use applications. These plots of cyberspace have now become the watering holes of our monkey mind, and they most definitely leak into the rest of our brain.
In a way, we are being programmed every day. A select group of employees in some San Francisco-based corporation curate what you see daily. Inherently, their ideology affects their curation. The disproportionate influence and control over information flow mimics the role of the Medieval Church of the past. So if the printing press is captured, do we have any hope?
Luckily an element of hyperbole is here. These corporations are not as stringent in their censorship and obfuscation as the Church. But there is indeed a chipping away of neutrality to large degrees and now even interference in the domestic and foreign affairs of nations, something rightfully attracting the ire and attention of world leaders. Platforms like Clubhouse and Substack provide glimmers of hope of decentralized direct-to-customer approaches (as well as the much more primitive and convoluted crypto platforms on assets such as Ethereum and other blockchains), but these are indeed glimmers rather than godsends.
Innovation abhors conformity. The process of digital feudalism and the totalitarian approach of morality with this New Church will stifle progress itself. The American spirit is built upon the marketplace of ideas and dynamism of entrepreneurship. And unfortunately, the New Church we just examined is attempting to crush both wings of our American spirit with the dangerous spread of disinformation feudalism.